Two cases consumed the bulk of Friday's Philadelphia Historical Commission meeting, while at the same time shining a spotlight on the issues raised when new uses are found for old structures such as, in today's instances, a department store and a church.
The first concerned a proposal by the publishers of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com to install a new canopy, used for branding identification, on the older part of their new location, the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store on the 800 block of Market Street.
In response to suggestions made by the Commission's Architectural Committee, the applicants came back with a scaled down marquee (now proposed to project 4 feet into the street instead of the original 6 feet). Although Committee Chair Dominique Hawkins would ultimately vote to deny this new proposal at today's meeting, she praised it for addressing the concerns of the Committee while questioning whether such a marquee was appropriate at all.
Much of today's debate, however, centered on the mysterious case of the missing letters that originally spelled out the name of the department store. (See Ashley Hahn's thoughts about this here.) The applicants and some Commission members questioned whether the issue was relevant, since the building's owners, PREIT, asserts it doesn't have the letters, it didn't remove them, and it has no right to use the name.
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